[RC5] seti@home fraud!

Mike Faunce mfaunce at earthlink.net
Mon Jun 7 11:46:28 EDT 1999

SETI @ Home has acknowledged this and other problems.  Taken from their home
page (http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu):
To our users: SETI at home is off to a great start! We now have over 500,000
users, many more than we expected. This has caused some temporary problems:

* Our servers are occasionally overloaded. If you get a "Can't connect to
server" message, the problem is probably at our end, not yours.
* Our "data pipeline" is not flowing at top speed yet, so we're sending out
the same work units (mostly recorded Jan 7 and Jan 8) repeatedly. This will
be fixed shortly.
* Credit for work units and CPU time may not show up immediately in your
* Our new "Group" feature has had some problems; If you've joined a group,
you may need to get a new password and join it again.
* We're a bit overwhelmed with emails and bug reports, and won't be able to
respond to them individually. Please check our "known bugs" list carefully
before reporting problems.

We're working hard to fix these problems. With the help of new
high-performance machines from Sun Microsystems, we'll upgrade our server
capacity; this will happen in mid/late June. Soon (probably around June 10)
we'll release new versions of the client software that fix several bugs and
respond to server problems in a more user-friendly way.

So please bear with us during these "growing pains", and thanks for being
part of this incredible project.
I believe the SETI at Home staff was woefully under prepared for the number of
users who decided to participate.  Reaching 500,000 users in 18 days was an
order of magnitude larger than they expected, IMHO.  Many of the problems
SETI at Home is reporting could be taken directly from D.Net's growing pains.
They are suffering from the same problems, just sooner because of the amount
of publicity they got before the project started.


-----Original Message-----
From: owner-rc5 at lists.distributed.net
[mailto:owner-rc5 at lists.distributed.net]On Behalf Of Paul Cuni
Sent: Saturday, June 05, 1999 11:46 AM
To: rc5 at lists.distributed.net
Subject: [RC5] seti at home fraud!

  500,000 users working on 115
  work units?
5 1999

2:28AM EDT

   I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that SETI at home's half million
participants are currently being
   assigned the same 115 work units over and over again, all from three
different sky locations collected
   on January 7 and 8. If anyone has seen any other work units recently --
especially from January 9 or
   later -- please speak up.

   After seeing a few duplications of work units a machine at work had
already processed (same headers,
   same content), I ran a test. I instructed my computer to repeatedly
start the SETI at home client and
   download a work unit, but then just kill it, record the name, and start
again. The result: Out of 2500
   work units, the same 115 kept showing up.

   Two of the 115 work units are slices of different coordinates and have
the following names (as shown
   on the fourth line of the work_unit.txt file):

   name=07ja99aa.10912.26555.213914.156 [got this one 6 times out of 2500]
   name=08ja99aa.16286.4081.917340.30 [got this one 4 times out of 2500]

   The others are all subband slices from one location (but only 113 of
   They all say
   where * is one of these subband numbers:
   0 2 3 4 5 6 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 22 23 24 26 27 28 29 31
32 33 35 36 37 38 39 41 43 44
   45 47 50 52 54 55 56 60 61 62 64 65 66 67 70 72 74 76 78 79 80 85 86 87
88 89 90 91 92 94 95 96 97
   98 99 100 102 103 104 109 110 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 122 123
124 125 127 131 132 133 134
   135 138 139 140 142 143 145 148 149 150 151 152 154 158 160 161 163

   The only other data unit I've seen was one I downloaded on May 27 and
then had to release the
   machine that was working on it.

   I hope the SETI at home project will fix this problem soon, or at least
acknowledge it and promise that
   they're working on it.

   P.S. Kris, you may be right about the cause, but I doubt it. Web browser
clients may be configured to
   use caching proxies, but there's no reason that the SETI at home
client/server connection would be built
   only anything that complicated when a direct connection is easier to do.
But not having seen the
   implementation, anything is possible.

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